Your face is becoming the key to accessing your money, your devices and could mean the difference between freedom and imprisonment. It’s a feature that unlike fingerprints can be scanned at a distance, and it’s being used on a massive scale to electronically identify people as they walk past a camera.

Here’s how it works, and how it fails. Facial recognition systems generate what is called a faceprint — a unique code applicable to one individual — by measuring the distance between points like the width of a person’s nose.

Tap or click a feature to see what the system measures. These so-called “nodal points” — there are more than 80 points that a facial recognition system checks — are combined mathematically to build the faceprint, which can then be used to search through an identity database.

The systems used on some personal devices work a little differently. The iPhone X shines a grid of 30,000 infrared dots on a face and makes a crude 3D model.

This method works from a metre away. The Microsoft Hello system takes an infrared picture of a face to allow for traditional facial recognition at a 1m distance. Read more from…

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